It’s all too easy to misplace keys and other important items as we go about our day. In addition to investing in a key lockbox, drain some anxiety from your day with a handy key finder. These tiny devices use wireless signals, paired with a remote transmitter or your smartphone, to keep track of anything they’re attached to: keys, wallets, bags, even pets.
Depending on your lifestyle and tech habits, one of the best key finder options should offer an easy remedy for that common enough complaint: Darn it, now where did I put my keys?
- BEST OVERALL: Kimfly Key Finder Smart Tracker (Gen II 4Pack)
- RUNNER-UP: Esky Key Finder with 1 Transmitter and 6 Receivers
- BEST LOUD: KeyRinger Key Finder Pair
- BEST KEY ORGANIZER: Vozni Key Organizer with Tracker
- BEST APP: Tile Mate (2020) 4-pack -Bluetooth Tracker
- BEST FOR TRAVEL: Tile Pro 2-pack High Performance Bluetooth Tracker
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Key Finder
There’s no need to clutter your life with unnecessary gear. Instead, choose great gadgets that streamline your daily routine and reduce headaches. For folks who struggle to keep track of items big and small, key finders can be a game-changer. How do these little wireless devices work? Here are the basics you’ll need to know before purchasing.
Bluetooth vs. Radio Signal
Key finders work via an invisible signal that’s transmitted and received. One of two types of signal are used: Bluetooth or radio frequency (RF) waves. Bluetooth is a wireless technology that allows devices to exchange information over short distances (up to about 30 feet). By pairing a key finder with your smartphone via Bluetooth, items in close proximity can be found easily. Over longer distances (beyond 30 feet), your phone’s Wi-Fi network kicks in, and you can track lost belongings via an app, at ranges of 100 or more feet.
RF technology makes use of radio waves, which travel farther than Bluetooth but not as far as your Wi-Fi network. RF key finders cannot be paired with your smartphone. Instead, they come with a remote-control-like transmitter. This central transmitter keeps track of the small receivers attached to your gear. On the one hand, RF finders are easy to use. You won’t need a smart device, app, or Bluetooth technology. Just push a button and sound the alarm. On the other hand, key finders that utilize RF waves are only helpful up to distances of about 115 feet. This makes them perfect for at-home use. However, if you travel a lot or commute, Bluetooth-enabled key finders are probably more useful.
Size and Sound
Key finders need to be small enough to attach to a keychain but not so small that they’re easily misplaced themselves. Typically the tracking receivers that attach to keys and other items are between 1 and 2 inches long, 1 and 2 inches wide, and just a fraction of an inch deep. Their internal electronics contain ringers that go off when you press a button on the remote transmitter or via the app on your smartphone. For folks who are hard of hearing or simply desire the peace of mind that comes with a very loud alarm, look for loudness levels between 80 and 85 decibels. And be careful! Don’t operate one of these devices near someone’s head, as sounds like that can cause discomfort or ear damage.
Key finders can be simple or enhanced with a variety of extras. In addition to a loud alarm, some key finders offer one or more of the following features:
- Seamless app integration is one of the benefits of buying a Bluetooth key finder. But the apps themselves vary greatly in quality and user-friendliness. Pay attention to customer ratings and reviews, where honest feedback is provided. Tile brand trackers have gone through various improvements over the years, so their app is one of the most sophisticated and user-friendly, and is compatible with both Apple and Android phones.
- Battery life affects all key finders, regardless of whether they use Bluetooth or RF technology. Some brands provide additional batteries, which can be helpful to keep your finder going.
- A built-in LED flashlight can help you track down items at night, in dark corners, or between cushions. RF key trackers operated by remote transmitters often contain an LED light (in the transmitter itself) for just such a purpose. Once you push the button to sound the alarm, use the transmitter as a flashlight to find your keys and other misplaced items.
- A selfie button allows you to take photos at a distance. Some key finders can be paired with your phone’s camera.
Our Top Picks
When choosing the best key finders for every household, this guide prioritized user-friendliness, app design, and effectiveness in real-life scenarios. The recommendations below include strong contenders that use either RF or Bluetooth technology to locate lost gear wirelessly, over distances of 100 feet or more.
Don’t worry about leaving things behind. Kimfly’s Key Finders will automatically alert you when you go out of range from important items (like wallets and cellphones). Simply pair with your phone’s Bluetooth, then download the iSearching app for easy monitoring. Each finder in this four-pack is small enough to fit onto a keychain or inside a purse. With a decent operating range of about 100 feet, each finder has three main functions: tracking, camera shutter operator, and last place seen. In a hurry? Quick finder mode saves you time retracing your steps. It will also immediately buzz you if you’ve misplaced your phone. The iSearching app isn’t as user-friendly as the Tile app, but the Kimfly finders are sturdy and easy to use.
More than a key finder, Esky is designed to help you keep track of items big and small. Just attach one of the six receivers to keys, cellphones, wallets, or even your pets. Rather than pairing these tracking devices with your cellphone, Esky is remote-control-operated. Finding misplaced stuff is easy: Just press the corresponding color-coded button on the remote and follow the sound. Each device emits a loud 80-decibel beep, using a radio frequency that easily penetrates walls, doors, and cushions, allowing you to locate lost items up to 100 feet away. Premium batteries are included, and remember, just follow the beep.
Keep it simple with a key finder that does just that: find your keys. KeyRingers are ready to use right out of the package—so no pairing with Bluetooth. Each set includes two KeyRingers: Each one calls the other. The ringer itself is incredibly loud. It can operate (audibly) up to 300 feet, making it perfect for losing keys in a parking lot, as well as inside the home. Battery operated and durably built from polycarbonate plastic, each KeyRinger beeps as well as flashes, for maximum visibility. A web app (though not a phone app) is available via the KeyRinger website, allowing you to program multiple KeyRingers simultaneously and personalize the volume, response duration, and other features. An excellent choice for families, seniors, and kids.
This all-in-one key finder and organizer offers style plus substance. Made of handcrafted Italian leather, the ruggedly sleek key holder can handle up to 10 keys and keeps them tightly bound together so no jangling in your pocket or bag. The leather case also prevents cellphones and other delicate surfaces from getting scratched. The key finder itself contains an alarm that pairs with your smartphone to trigger a loud noise when you’ve misplaced your Vozni fob. Other perks include a stainless-steel bottle opener, selfie button, and LED light for illuminating your door as you open it. Perfect as a stocking stuffer, it’s also a great replacement for a regular key chain.
Tile is taking over the marketplace when it comes to smart trackers, and it’s easy to see why. Simple and sleek, these cool white chips pair seamlessly with your smartphone, whether iOS or Android. Because it is operated via the Tile app, you can use your phone to ring your Tile Mate when it’s within 200 feet. Farther afield, your Tile still works, even when beyond Bluetooth range. Simply use the Tile app to view your Tile’s most recent position and get safe, anonymous help via the Tile Network. Tile can even find your phone when it’s on silent. This four-pack is a perfect starter kit, offering the brand’s latest technical upgrade to date.
Sometimes you need a key tracker with a little more durability. This is especially the case when it’s not just keys you need to keep track of but luggage, camping gear, briefcases, and more. The rugged Tile Pro is Tile’s high-performance model. Sturdily built to withstand the wear and tear of travel and daily life, these models are similar to the Tile Mate but with a little added oomph. When paired with your smartphone, Tile Pros track items up to and beyond 400 feet via the Tile app and Tile Network, which is an anonymous and safe method for tracking down lost gear. This pack comes with two receivers, though you can also purchase a single Tile Pro or a four-pack.
FAQs About Your New Key Finder
Key finders seem a little magical, but they work thanks to wireless technology. Remember that radio frequency (RF) key finders are optimal for use around the house and yard (distances up to 100 feet). Beyond that, you may want to invest in a Bluetooth-enabled system that pairs with your smartphone. Here are the basics:
Q. What is a key finder?
It’s an electronic device that uses wireless technology to locate lost items over distances. Bluetooth-enabled finders can also transmit alerts to your smartphone.
Q. How does a key finder work?
They work via wireless signal, connected to a transmitter (via radio frequency waves) or smartphone (via Bluetooth).
Q. How do you use a key finder?
Press a button on your transmitter or click the app on your phone. Listen for the receiver’s alarm, and track down your lost item via sound. Beyond 100 feet away, key finders often require an app connected to a wireless network to assist you in finding your misplaced gear.
Q. How long does a key finder last?
Batteries last between six months to two years, depending on use.